The Open Book Audio Blog

Featured Blog Post

Blog Entry - 29 Oct 2014
OBA Titles Now Available on Skybrite
Audiobook Club Selection for -: OBA Titles Now Available on Skybrite

 
Open Book Audio is proud to announce that catalog is now available for streaming from the NEW audio streaming service Skybrite.

Skybrite is a new streaming subscribtion service that gives users unlimited access to a huge library of audio programs in over 325 different genres, all from your mobile device. It's like the Netflix of audiobooks. 

Currently, their catalog contains works from over 5,000 authors, speakers, performers, and celebrities...including Open Book Audio's fantastic authors!

In addition to OBA's great catalog, you'll also file thousands of audiobooks, the entire Scholastic library of classic kid's stories, stand-up comedy performances, celebrity interviews, and a large selection of business trainings.

And, you can sign up now for a free trial (no credit card required). After your free trial, you can choose to sign up for a really affordable monthly price of $9.99 for unlimited streaming. It's a pretty great deal.

Click here to get your free trial right now <<<

We've been playing around with the free trial, and so far we're pretty impressed with what Skybrite has done so far, and is trying to do. We're always excited to see innovation and new energy in the audiobook market, and we're very excited to continue working with Skybrite going forward.

So, head over there now. You can find nearly all of our titles in their catalog. The few that are missing will be submitted to them soon, as all of our titles going forward as well.  

 

Blog Entry - 19 Jun 2014
Barnes & Noble to Remove Audiobooks
Audiobook Club Selection for -: Barnes & Noble to Remove Audiobooks

Hey all, Matt here from Open Book Audio with a bit of sad news.

US Book Retailer Barnes & Noble recently announced that, as of July 1st, 2014, they will no longer be offering digital audiobooks for download, and encourage customers who have purchased titles from them to download backup copies of those titles prior to July 1st. 

Barnes & Noble's digital audiobook offerings were provided via Overdrive, the same distribution system that provides audiobooks to tens of thousands of libraries worldwide, as well as dozens of retailers. Open Book Audio distributes our entire catalog through the Overdrive system, and as a result, our titles are among those that Barnes & Noble will be removing from availability. Along those lines, we have pulled the links to the Barnes & Noble listings from our catalog, and updated our website to indicate the Barnes & Noble is no longer one of the retailers carrying our title.  

Please note that, if you purchased any Open Book Audio titles from Barnes & Noble over the last several years, when B&N pulls down their audiobook titles, you will no longer be able to download those titles. Nor is Open Book Audio able to provide you access to the title you purchased via another retailer. Therefore, it is important that, if you wish to keep a copy of the audiobook title you downloaded from Barnes & Noble, you download and back up a copy of that audiobook title prior to July 1, 2014.

All Open Book Audio titles will continue to be available via other retailers and libraries worldwide via the Overdrive network. These retailers include Books-a-Million and Waterstones. In addition, our catalog will continue to be available in all of the other retail outlets that they have always been. In addition, we will be announcing new retail outlets shortly.

We will also be keeping an eye on what happens with our friends over at Barnes & Noble. Some announcements surrounding this change indicate that B&N will not be abandoning digital audiobooks entirely, but that they are investigating other methods of providing digital audiobooks that will perform in a more streamlined manner and/or may integrate more seamlessly with their Nook ecosystem.  We'll be sure to keep an eye on things and let you know if anything changes with B&N's audiobook offerings.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
 

Blog Entry - 19 May 2014
Audiobook Giveaway: Anything Worth Doing
Audiobook Club Selection for -: Audiobook Giveaway: Anything Worth Doing

Open Book Audio, in collaboration with Sundog Book Publishing, has recently released the audiobook version of Jo Deurbrouck’s true-life adventure story, Anything Worth Doing: A True Story of Adventure, Friendship, and Tragedy on the Last of the West’s Great Rivers.

Anything Worth Doing tells the unforgettable true story of larger-than-life whitewater raft guides Clancy Reece and Jon Barker, two men who share a love of wild rivers and an unbending will to live life on their terms, no matter the cost.
Clancy's motto, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing," leads them into a decade of beautiful - and beautifully strange - river adventures. Then, on June 8, 1996, in pursuit of a 24-hour speed record they intend to share only with a handful of friends, the men launch Clancy's handmade dory, his proudest possession, onto Idaho's renowned Salmon River at peak flood of an extreme high-water year. This time the odds catch up with them.

With clarity reminiscent of Krakauer's Into the Wild, whitewater veteran Jo Deurbrouck carries us down the West's great rivers and into the hearts, minds, and homes of that rare breed for whom security is optional but freedom and passion are not. Anything Worth Doing - taut and efficient, yet rich with insight - is destined to become an adventure classic.

The highly-rated Anything Worth Doing is the 2012 National Outdoor Book Awards winner.

Reviews:
Anything Worth Doing is a true drama whose characters will break your heart with their dreams, courage, vulnerability, and absolute determination to live life on their own terms, no matter the cost.” –Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men

“…This unforgettable book…catches, then lodges in the eddy of the heart.” –Cort Conley, Literature Program Director, Idaho Commission on the Arts.

With this new release, Open Book Audio will be giving away three codes to download the book for free from Audible.com. The contest will run through June 8th at 11:59PM Pacific Daylight Time. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below to enter using Facebook, Twitter, or posting a comment here on the blog post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Entry - 5 Feb 2014
Open Book Audio - 5 Years On
Audiobook Club Selection for -: Open Book Audio - 5 Years On

In celebration of our upcoming 5 Year anniversary, Open Book Audio CEO, Matt Armstrong, takes a look back on those early years of Open Book Audio

In early 2009, my life was unsettled.  A couple of years earlier, my career as an actor, singer, dancer, and musician had come to a rather abrupt halt when I came to the realization that I was getting older, fatter, more broke, and I was going to be unable to keep up the frenetic pace of performing one show, rehearsing a second show, music directing a third show, teaching voice at a university, teaching private voice lessons at home, teaching at a performing arts studio, and producing/arranging studio recordings—all the while trying (and failing) to maintain some semblance of a social life.  I wasn’t have any fun performing, and I wasn’t making enough money to put up with the life of a gypsy.  It was time for a change.
 
So I moved. I decided on a Sunday, and by the following Thursday, all of my belongings were in a truck, and I was headed to Seattle. (When I make a decision, I’m not one to sit around and fuss over it for a long time…) I found a job at Microsoft, and tried to settle into a normal corporate life. I had a 9-5 job, a dog, and a nice apartment on the lake. I even went back to school to get my MBA. I was building a new life. My life was stable. I had a regular paycheck. It was what I had wanted.
 
But I really missed performing. There’s a lot of garbage that goes along with being a working actor, but there’s also a lot of fun. There is a sense of community that comes from a troupe of actors working to build something bigger than any one individual. And the feeling of ownership that comes from creative endeavors can be exhilarating.
 
I spent some time trying to figure out how to merge my love of performing with the knowledge I was gaining in the digital media space and the business acumen I was beginning to absorb from school. Plus, I had thousands of dollars in recording equipment that was sitting in my spare bedroom, collecting dust.
 
For me, the epiphany came one evening while I was walking my dog after work.  I was listening to an Orson Scott Card audiobook read by the inestimable Stefan Rudnicki as I was being hauled down the road by an over-enthusiastic Golden Retriever, and thought, “Man, how much fun would that be?  I’d love to do audiobooks.”
 
It was like being struck by lightning. Why couldn’t I do audiobooks? I had a pretty good voice. I had really good equipment. And, perhaps most of all, I had a lot of training and experience as an actor. But I knew I didn’t want to just try and audition for audiobooks along with everyone else. Several years as a working actor still fresh in my mind, I knew that trying to break into an already-crowded field of more experienced and very talented narrators was a recipe for disappointment.  More importantly, I knew I wanted to build something that would allow me to generate income over time.  I had taught enough 30-minute voice lessons to know that when you are the product, you will eventually run into the issue of limited resources, because there is only so many hours in a day.
 
So, I looked up my old friend Andrew, and give him a call. Andrew and I had met over a decade earlier, and had become good friends—the kind of friends you only seem to make in college, when you find someone whose personality and talents dovetail with yours seamlessly. And then, as happens in life, went our separate ways.  He got married, went to graduate school, and started having kids. I took time off to work as a dancer on a cruise ship, graduated (finally), and started working as an actor. We lost touch as our lives took us in separate directions.  But I remembered that Andrew had studied recording sciences in college. And he had an incredible, deep bass voice. And a background in acting. Not to mention an MBA in marketing. I figured if anyone could help me get this thing off the ground, it would be him.
 
When I called Andrew, he had just recently been laid off from a long held marketing position, and was in between jobs. Not only was he interested in building this company with me, but we picked up our friendship as if no time had passed.  We spent a couple of months talking, and in mid-February, 2009, I filed the documents with the state of Washington for the founding of Open Book Audio.
 
In the five years since OBA officially opened its doors, we have seen a lot of change. Andrew now has three kids, and has changed positions a couple of times. I finished my MBA, moved 3 more times, and bought a house. The Matt and Andrew of 2014 are very different than the Matt and Andrew of 2009.
 
As much as we changed, though, our company, and the audiobook industry, have changed even more. What started as a small audiobook production company soon morphed into a distribution company as well. We began with 6 titles, which ballooned to 15, which ballooned to 125 in less than 2 years. We have talked with thousands of aspiring authors, narrators, producers, and engineers.
 
We have seen the audiobook market change from one mainly driven by CD sales (we even started printing CDs when we first launched!) to one dominated entirely by digital downloads. We have seen the audiobook market explode in volume. We have seen a move from director/producer-led recording audiobook sessions at a large, professional studio to narrators working by themselves from home. We’ve seen the launch of self-distribution platforms by major players in the industry. And, of course, we’ve seen many players in the industry come and go.
 
These last five years have been amazing, harrowing, crazy-busy, eye-opening, and sobering, all in equal doses. We’ve been blown away in by how much work has had to go into what we do and how much support we’ve received from so many people.  Open Book Audio has not yet grown into the large corporation, employing dozens or hundreds of people, that I envisioned when I started. However, we have laid the groundwork for some really exciting things in the future.
 
And most of all, we’ve had a lot of fun. I don’t get to record as many audiobooks as I would like, but every time I step into the booth and stand in front of the microphone, I get the same thrill I used to get before the curtain rose for the opening night performance of some play. What will happen next? How will it turn out? Was all the preparation enough? And the best part: you never know until those first few words start pouring out of your mouth:
 
“Open Book Audio Proudly Presents…”

 
Thank you to our fans, our friends, our publishing partners, our narrators, our engineers, our retailers, and everyone else with whom we do business. You’ve made the last five years a true adventure. Here’s to another 5. Or 50! 

Podcast - 11 Jun 2013

Apologies for the delay in getting podcast #65 out (and the missing #64...it was recorded, but never released.)  In this episode of the podcast, we'll play a sample of Invisible Ink, the latest audiobook produced by Open Book Audio, and featuring our very own Matt Armstrong.  We'll also review a whole slew of titles, and we make a pretty big (and a little sad) announcement.

Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate: http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Ink-Practical-Building-Resonate/dp/B00COP5NW4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370990906&sr=1-1&keywords=Invisible+Ink+Audiobook

A huge thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Open Book Audio Podcast!

Blog Entry - 6 Jun 2013
A Change is Coming!
Audiobook Club Selection for -: A Change is Coming!

When I sat down to write this blog post, I considered starting it off with some type of cliché like “All Good Things…” or “Change is the Only Constant” or some other drivel like that. I’m not big on clichés, though, so instead, I opted for the straightforward approach.
 
Open Book Audio is changing the way we do business.
 
Over the last four and a half years of operations, OBA has gone through several iterations as we’ve learned more about the audiobook market, and as we’ve watched it evolve.   The time has come, once again for us to adjust our course. 
 
So, what does all this pontification mean?  Beginning June 7th, 2013, Open Book Audio will no longer accept unsolicited requests for audiobook distribution or production. This means that we will no longer be serving as an audiobook aggregator and distributor for independent authors and publishers not already in the Open Book Audio catalog.  This also means that we will no longer be producing audiobooks for people or entities other than Open Book Audio.  At least not for now.
 
I can hear the confusion:  “Uh…isn’t that what you guys do?”
 
Yes. For the last four and a half years, production and distribution of third party audiobooks has been a major component of our operations.  The success and demand for our distribution services, in particular, took us by surprise.  We were unprepared for the pent-up demand, and we have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people on some truly spectacular titles. 
 
But as successful as our distribution and production services have been, the amount of work we have put into helping others sell their books has not offered a high enough return to support our business.  Between high (occasionally exorbitant) retailer fees, a lack of transparency in pricing, and very little competition in the audiobook marketplace, Open Book Audio’s distribution services simply do not generate enough money to pay for themselves.  And rather than boost our fees from 30% to 50-60% in order to recover costs (let alone expand the business), we have taken a look at trends in the marketplace and realized that distribution and third party production are simply not growth areas for a healthy business.
 
The other, and perhaps even more important, part of why we’re changing the business is that Matt and I are a worn out. Aside from spending the last four and a half years pouring our hearts and souls (not to mention countless hours and a whole lot of money) into Open Book Audio, we both work full-time jobs.  Open Book Audio has been a second job for both of us.  It’s not uncommon to find Matt and I on the phone into the wee hours of the morning discussing production schedules, new contracts, or financial decisions. We have worked very hard, slept very little, and have dedicated our lives to building something special. And while we’re proud of what we’ve built, we both feel that it is important to reconnect with children, spouses, family, friends, loved ones, and even pets who have been set aside while we have grown our business.
 
Open Book Audio will still be around—just in a different form. The success of OBA has afforded us the ability to pick those projects about which we feel passionate—those that we can do the way we feel is best.  We plan on releasing 5-6 new audiobooks titles each year in which we can heavily invest, rather than maintaining the exhausting pace of 70-80 title releases a year. Simply put, we want to get back into the recording studio to put our own unique stamp on audiobook projects about which we care deeply.  And so, effective June 7, that’s what we’ll be doing.
 
At the end of the day, Matt and I are actors. We love the performance aspect of recording audiobooks and bringing characters to life. It’s what excites us and gets us out of bed in the morning.  This is why, after much number-crunching, hand-wringing, and soul-searching, we have decided to make this change of directions and to focus our energies on building a more sustainable and energetic Open Book Audio.
 
As for our current authors, we’ll still be servicing their titles so you’ll still be able to get your favorite OBA titles anywhere audiobooks are sold. And for those authors already in the OBA stable, we’ll be adding their newest audiobook titles to our catalog as they are released.  But for new authors or publishers, Open Book Audio will no longer be accepting unsolicited titles or requests for production.
 
We know that this news will make some people sad or frustrated. The audiobook market is still quite unsettled, and not every author has an easy way of making his or her audiobook available everywhere. We get it.  While it may not be much of a comfort, please know that this was not a decision we made lightly.  (In fact, there was more than a little agonizing going on.). However, we feel that this change of direction is for the best.  It will allow Open Book Audio to focus on fewer, higher-quality titles, as well as marketing the titles already in our catalog.
 
To all who helped make OBA a success, thank you. Matt and I are truly grateful for your support, love and kindness. We wish all of you the best and hope that whatever you wonderful endeavors you undertake in life, you’re lucky enough to be able to find success and good fortune.
 
Best wishes,
Andrew Parker, President
Open Book Audio

Podcast - 11 Apr 2013
This month's podcast features The 15-Minute Inbox by Joost Wouters.  For more information about this title, please visit the title listing page at http://openbookaudio.com/audiobook/15-minute-inbox

.

News

What We've Been Listening To

New Video - Compression

Blog Entry - 4 Apr 2013
Audiobooks: How Short is too Short?
Audiobook Club Selection for -: Audiobooks: How Short is too Short?

One of the most exciting parts of working with independent authors and small publishers is that we get the opportunity to interact with all different kinds of people, and listen to many different kinds of audiobooks.  One of the issues that we run into most often when working with independent authors and audiobook creators, however, is the problem of length.  When it comes to audiobooks, does length matter?

Audiobooks, in their infancy, were little more than a recorded reading of an actual, printed book.  It was very rare that you would get an audiobook that wasn’t also available in print.  There were the occasional dramatizations, but the audiobook industry grew up tied very closely to the print industry.  Understanding that digital audiobook sales have much more in common with the publishing industry than with the digital music or digital video industries is important when understanding how an audiobook’s length matters to the price and, more importantly, to how much money you might be able to make from the sale of your title. 
To illustrate, let’s use an example:  Let’s say you were to list your audiobook for sale on a service like Audible or iTunes.  For the most part, the price for which your audiobook will be sold is determined, not by you, but by the retailer.  That price is determined by a whole variety of factors, the largest one being the length of the title.  Below is a sample pricing structure pulled from the website of one major retailer.

  • Titles under 3 hours: Under $10
  • 3-5 Hours: $10-$20
  • 5-10 Hours: $15-25
  • 10-20 Hours: $20-$30
  • Over 20 Hours: $25-$35

The larger retailers are understandably secretive about the exact algorithms they use to price the titles in their catalogs, and they work hard to ensure that they can be competitive in the marketplace.  In many cases, those prices will fluctuate from day to day, or even hour to hour, based upon a wide variety of variables that can contribute to the pricing.  However, one thing that is pretty clear is that titles under 3 hours generally sell for less than 10 dollars.

This, in and of itself, is not a huge deal, until you consider that audiobook retailer fees can be very high:  between 40-80% of the sales of your title.  Let’s say that you have a 2-hour title that sells for $6.95.  If your title is selling through a retailer that takes 75% of each sale, every sold copy of your 2-hour title will net a grand total of only $1.73.

Short audiobooks also have to overcome a couple of perception issues.  If you can pay $25 for a 20-hour audiobook, then $6.95 for an audiobook seems like a little bit of a rip-off.  The 20-hour book costs you a little over $0.02 cents per minute.  The 2-hour audiobook sold at $6.95 has an effective price of nearly $0.06 per minute—three times more than the longer audiobook.  So, for the regular consumer of audiobooks, shorter titles just don’t seem to have as much value as longer titles. 

And then there are the various programs that retailers have for charging a monthly fee and providing a set number of downloads or user credits.  For example, you might pay $22.95 per month to a retailer, and in return, get one or two credits to download an audiobook.  If you’re a regular consumer, what are you going to spend your credit on?  The 41-hour epic novel or the 90-minute short story collection? 

In fact, the perceived lack of value for shorter titles is so high for some users that, at least in the Open Book Audio catalog, short titles account for nearly 80% of the titles that get returned by users.  (Did you know that listeners can return audiobooks that they don’t like for a refund?  It’s true…)  And even Audible, in one of its recently quarterly letters to publishers that accompanies their payments, mentioned that longer titles tend to sell much better than shorter ones. It is for this reason that Open Book Audio doesn’t often accept titles of less than 2-3 hours into the catalog.  Not only have sales proven to be lackluster, but the amount of money left over to pay both the distribution fees and the author is so paltry it rarely covers the cost of recording the audio, processing the title, or submitting it to the retailers.

So, if you have a short title, and you want to make it available as audio, what can you do?  If you list it as an audiobook, the retailers are going to take most of the sales.  Not only that, but the sales will probably be lackluster since audiobook fans don’t generally seek out short titles.  Well, fortunately, there are options. 
Once of the things that we often suggest to folks who approach us with very short titles is to list their titles, not as audiobooks, but as spoken word albums.  Spoken word albums are sold through the same channels your music might be sold instead of selling through audiobook channels.  They appear in iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Google Play.  They are available to download on most major devices, including iPads, iPods, iPhones, Android Phones, Windows Phones, etc.  The music retail channels allow you to set your own price for your title.  And perhaps best of all, the music retail channels generally only take 30-40% of the sales, rather than 40-80% of the sales, leaving a whole lot more money in your pocket.

This is a great way of releasing self-help or business seminars, recordings of live presentations, audio dramas, and children’s stories—especially if these are audio titles that aren’t part of the “traditional” definition of audiobooks (i.e., a recording of someone reading/performing the actual text of a book.)  The audiences for these kinds of titles are often more familiar with the ecosystems surrounding the purchase of music than they are with audiobooks, it doesn’t require them to sign up for a new service, and the barriers to entry are a little lower.

There are several services that would sell your title as a spoken word title.  CDBaby and Tunecore are two of the more well-known services that distribute through the music channels.  Open Book Audio also regularly works with a New York-based distributor known as HSM Entertainment (http://www.hsment.com).  Any of these services can distribute your title as a spoken word title in the same way that Open Book Audio can distribute it as an audiobook.

So, if you have a short title that you are considering trying to sell as an audiobook, think about releasing it as a spoken word album or audio drama instead.  You may find that it’s a better fit for your needs, and for your pocketbook.

Podcast - 26 Mar 2013

This month's halfcast features Close Calls: The True Tales of Cougar Bob,  written by BJ Campbell and read by Alan Sain and Duane Allen.  For more information about this title, including links for where to buy it online, please visit the title listing page at http://www.openbookaudio.com/audiobook/close-calls.

Close Calls: The True Tales of Cougar Bob is a collection of twenty-six creative non-fiction short stories about courage, and what it takes to prove it. The Close Calls just bring it out in Cougar Bob. What does it take for North Idaho long distance runner, Robert L. Campbell, to get into the Navy if he is under weight? What does it take for him to walk again, and run, after polio in the Navy? To hunt down and trap a cougar that stalks kids at a school bus stop? To track an escaped killer with his man-trailing bloodhound? To face life-threatening blizzards? To swim rivers at ice flow, or be dropped on a rope across the Moyie Canyon to set a road survey point? Or to volunteer always for the toughest jobs?
Newsflashes from "The Cougar Bob Review," a twenty-year, mostly humorous, periodic two-page publication about the man, appear between the short stories in this AudioBook. In the "Review," author B. J. Campbell reveals the truth about her fervent, focused, brave husband, Cougar Bob.
Podcast - 11 Mar 2013

This month's podcast features Heroin's Puppet: The Rehab Journals of Amelia F.W. Caruso (1989-2009) by Melissa M. Weiksnar.  For more information about this title, please visit the title listing page at ​http://openbookaudio.com/audiobook/heroins-puppet.

News

New Video


What We've Been Reading

Pages

More Titles

Subscribe to the OBA Podcast

  • Subscribe on iTunes
  • Subscribe with Zune
  • Podcast RSS Feed
  • Subscribe through Podcast Ready
  • Add to Google Reader or Homepage
  • Subscribe with My Yahoo